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Exhibitionist: Cat back fever

Brad Evans
Yahoo Sports

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This preseason won't be the Little Napoleon's Waterloo.

With first-round Mighty Mouse Jonathan Stewart, who is slowly recovering from toe surgery, on the sideline in street clothes, incumbent DeAngelo Williams took advantage against the Colts. Running with newfound power and conviction, the diminutive drag racer ripped off 55 yards on nine carries (6.1 YPC), rushing for touchdowns of one and ten yards.

D-Will, expected to be the explosive yin to Stewart's power yang, has excelled in training camp. He's appeared grittier and stronger, characteristics many pundits believed were lacking last season. Prior to Saturday's spectacular showing, Carolina offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson gushed about the third-year back's advancements telling the Gaston Gazette:

"In a lot of regards, he's improved for us. One thing that we noticed right away, and it started even before we went on break a little bit, was that he was taking a more active approach in the leadership of our team. And it's very evident now."

Jake Delhomme also showered Williams in adulation:

"He ran great. He broke tackles. I think this year we will be able to see for certain what DeAngelo Williams can do."

The former Memphis standout's current Y! ADP is 117.4 (or the 37th RB), nearly 30 picks after Stewart. Per Mock Draft Central the disparity is roughly 10 picks smaller (Williams ADP: 82.9, Stewart: 61.8).

Yes, it's hard to make concrete assertions after one exhibition game, but Williams should be boosted slightly up draft boards. Given the Panthers overhauled offensive line, zone-blocking scheme, run-first philosophy and Delhomme's ability to stretch the field with Steve Smith, D-Will is in a favorable situation. Remember, in an inconsistent role, and without Delhomme for much of the year, he averaged 5.0 YPC in '07.

If he thrives again Thursday in Philadelphia, Williams will likely have the upper-hand on the starting job. As of now, rank him alongside Chester Taylor, Chris Johnson and Ricky Williams.

Note: Big thanks to Carle Hospital in Champaign, Illinois for the free Wi-Fi connection. Believe it or not, this entry was filed from my wife's hospital room. She's about to give birth to our second child. That's how dedicated we are to providing you with updated information/opinions. And no, we're not naming the boy DeAngelo, much to the Noise's chagrin.